World War II was well underway in Europe when Clifford A. Mitts, Jr. engaged a new business partner. Mr. Mitts had 15 years of practice under his belt, including nine years as a solo practitioner. At the time, he was operating out of the tallest building in Grand Rapids, Michigan—the historic McKay Tower. Mr. Mitts was a reputed trial attorney and had a solid base of business, including serving as general counsel for Fidelity Corporation and The Hartford.
In 1941, Mr. Mitts formed a partnership with A. B. “Bud” Smith, Jr., who had been an associate at Mr. Mitts’ firm since 1938. That enterprise never had a chance to properly flourish since Mr. Smith was called to military service in 1942. When Mr. Smith returned from the war in 1945, the Mitts & Smith partnership was reestablished. Their business was strongly oriented toward litigation.
In 1948, David O. Haughey, a recent law school graduate, joined the firm. By 1950 he was made a partner and the firm name changed to Mitts, Smith & Haughey. As a young lawyer, Mr. Haughey developed a practice in tort litigation and real estate and financing matters. Later, he focused on product liability litigation, having successfully represented clients such as Dow Chemical and General Motors in important trials.
For the next few decades, the firm came to be regarded as a well established and successful small firm in Western Michigan. Its approximately seven attorneys were consulted by a diverse clientele including insurance agents and companies, realtors, and businesses, mostly in the construction and real estate development industry.